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January 31, 2007
Over at the design blog, Drawing on Promises, "Blank" raises some intriguing questions about the relationship between design and social class.
This last sentence really caught my attention. Could it be that part of the problem at Ford and GM goes far beyond - and far deeper - than the quality and performance of their cars - that at least part of the problem is the way their cars are perceived as conveying a certain class status? More to the point, with all the talk over niche markets and long-tails, could it be that the perception of social class remains a powerful tool in marketing to consumer groups? Your thoughts?
Martin Wolf puts his finger on what is perhaps the biggest issue of our time - the growing divergence between "economic progress" and "political turmoil" in the Financial Times (subscription only, hat tip: Mark Thoma).
Jerry Mayer and I take up this theme in our essay on "The Unsettled Politics of the Creative Age." Click here to download.
January 30, 2007
I use the occupational statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics all the time. But it's also worth noting that the Bureau's researchers produce some of the best research on regional trends and on talent shifts around. Here are links to some of the best studies of the past year.
According to this report by Christoper Power: "One of the dominant themes emerging from Davos this year is the power of demographics. Population isn't exactly destiny, but it's a huge determinant in how nations, economies, and companies fare. And the demographics often reveal trends that, on the surface at least, contradict the general appearance of a nation's prosperity." Amen! The whole story is here.
The new 2007 Index of Silicon Valley is out. This year's effort by Doug Henton and the terrific team at Collaborative Economics is the best one yet. In addition to tracking trends in high-tech and venture investment, it includes a detailed section on Silicon Valley in a spiky world, with new data on the global distribution of patents, IT employment, and venture investments. This special section has a detailed analysis of talent and diversity which concludes that "Silicon Valley’s diverse ethnic composition will be its chief asset in the global marketplace, where new technology regions in Asia, Israel, and Europe are emerging as competitors and collaborators." The report includes a detailed analysis of the externalities of the creative economy, including worsening economic inequality and deepening problems of housing affordability, noting that: " the region faces significant challenges... the percentage of first-time home buyers who can afford the median-priced home is 26 percent, down from 31 percent in 2005."
The report concludes that Silicon Valley is: "growing as a global center for creativity in business and technology, defining our advantage by being creators of new products, services, companies and business models. This is a fundamental restructuring, away from the old manufacturing model toward a new idea economy. We can see it happening very clearly, and our region’s companies are taking full advantage. The question for Silicon Valley is whether there will be broad participation in these activities—particularly for the rising generation—or whether we’re looking at a future where our companies prosper through their global networks but the region doesn’t feel better off.”
The full report is here.
Have a look at this article on "Place-making for the Creative Class" by James Richard in the current issue of Landscape Architecture magazine. It's based on the findings of the detailed fieldwork and interviews for his University of Texas master's thesis on quality of place in Austin, Seattle and Washington DC.
More than 800 million people traveled internationally last year, breaking previous records, according to a new report from the United Nations' World Tourism Organization. Tourism was up 4 percent in Europe and the Middle East, 7.6 percent in Asia-Pacific and 8.1percent in Africa - and 4.5 percent overall.
Guess what region had the weakest growth? North America, where tourism was up just 2 percent. While one might think the weaker U.S. dollar would encourage travelers to head to America, tourism from Western Europe to the US fell 3 percent last year. According to the report, "widespread confusion over U.S. visa and passport requirements for foreign visitors" is to (hat tip: Shari Young Kuchenbecker).
Brian Knudsen sent me this link to Robert's Sullivan's terrific oped in yesterday's New York Times:
January 29, 2007
Here's Trulia's national real estate heat map on the left. You can drill down for more detailed information on states, counties, cities, neighborhoods, and zip codes by clicking on the live map over at their site.
On the right is competitor Zillow's list of million dollar homes by city. There, you can use Zestimates to create all sorts of interesting data on real estate trends.
And over at the ominously titled Housing Doom, there's a list (below) of foreclosed properties by state, based on data on Fannie Mae-owned properties. It's not the list they imagined, dominated as it is by heartland states like Ohio and Michigan, with bubble markets conspicuously absent, at least for the time being. Click on any of these graphics to enlarge.
Your thoughts on what might be behind these trends and patterns?